Creating the Solar Village

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 18 Oct 2007 18:00:00 GMT

Student leaders in architecture and engineering from three universities at the US Solar Decathlon on the Mall discuss special features of their leading-edge, solar-powered houses and how their experience has helped shape their future as innovators. Participants are from the University of Colorado, Boulder – a two-time solar Decathlon winner, Carnegie Mellon University (Pittsburgh, PA) and the University of Maryland, College Park. Panel moderator is Bobbie Faul-Zeitler, editor of Green News Update and mentor to the University of Maryland team. Co-sponsored by the Smithsonian office of Energy Management.

At the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History at 10th Street & Constitution Ave. NW.

Solar Decathlon Showcases Green Homes for Today: How Energy Bill Provisions Can Support High-Performance Homes 2

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 17 Oct 2007 17:00:00 GMT

Universidad de Puerto Rico house
© Jeff Kubina

The Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) invites you to a Congressional briefing featuring the Solar Decathlon and the value of incorporating high-performance “green” design in buildings. The briefing will also discuss how provisions in the pending energy bill can help improve efficient homes. Buildings account for more than 40 percent of annual U.S. energy use and are, in turn, responsible for more than one-third of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Because buildings last many decades, the economic, environmental and health impacts of inefficient building design are long-lasting.

The Solar Decathlon-taking place on the National Mall October 12 – 20- is an exciting competition in which 20 teams of college and university students from across the country, including four international teams, compete to design, build, and operate the most attractive, effective, and energy-efficient solar-powered house. The house must also be able to power an electric vehicle as well as be “off the grid.” These solar homes are powerful, comfortable, and stylish. They are relaxed and elegant, wasting neither space nor energy. High efficiency solar houses like these are using readily available technology and designs-not futuristic concepts. But policies like stronger building codes and the solar provisions in the energy bill are essential in helping make our homes greener and much more efficient-saving both energy and money.

  • Rhone Resch, Executive Director, Solar Energy Industries Association
  • Dr. Kaye Brubaker, Associate Professor, University of Maryland
  • Bill Nesmith, Assistant Director for Conservation, Oregon Department of Energy
  • Lowell Ungar, Director of Policy, Alliance to Save Energy

In addition to discussing the Solar Decathlon, the briefing will address the role of codes and standards in building energy efficiency. Measures to promote increased residential building energy efficiency are included in the House energy bill HR 3221, Title IX, Sec. 9031. “Encouraging Stronger Building Codes.” The briefing panel will also discuss the solar provisions in the energy bill, including tax incentives for solar energy.

This briefing is open to the public and no reservations are required. For more information, please contact Fred Beck at [email protected] or 202.662.1892.

Solar Decathlon Opening Ceremony 1

Posted by Brad Johnson Fri, 12 Oct 2007 14:00:00 GMT

The Solar Decathlon is a competition in which 20 teams of college and university students compete to design, build, and operate the most attractive, effective, and energy-efficient solar-powered house. The Solar Decathlon is also an event to which the public is invited to observe the powerful combination of solar energy, energy efficiency, and the best in home design.

The event takes place on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., October 12 – 20. The team houses are open for touring everyday, except Wednesday, October 17, when they will close for competition purposes. An overall winner is announced on Friday, October 19 at 2 p.m.

Teams of college students design a solar house, knowing from the outset that it must be powered entirely by the sun. In a quest to stretch every last watt of electricity that’s generated by the solar panels on their roofs, the students absorb the lesson that energy is a precious commodity. They strive to innovate, using high-tech materials and design elements in ingenious ways. Along the way, the students learn how to raise funds and communicate about team activities. They collect supplies and talk to contractors. They build their solar houses, learning as they go.

The 20 teams transport their solar houses to the competition site on the National Mall and virtually rebuild them in the solar village. Teams assemble their houses, and then the active phase of the Solar Decathlon begins with an opening ceremony for students, media, and invited guests. The teams compete in contests, and even though this part of the Solar Decathlon gets the most attention, the students really win the competition through the many months of fund raising, planning, designing, analyzing, redesigning, and finally building and improving their homes. The public is invited to tour the solar homes and event exhibits during much of the competition.

Awards Ceremony – Winner Announced: 2:00 p.m., Friday, October 19

Houses Open for Public Tours The public is invited to tour the houses during the open hours, listed below. Expect to stand in line to tour the houses. If you wish to see all of the houses, plan to spend two days.

  • 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., weekends
  • 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m., weekdays

Houses Closed Houses will be closed for 1 – 2 hours while jury evaluations are taking place October 13 – 16 and October 18 – 19. Times vary for each house. All day Wednesday, October 17, the houses are closed for controlled temperature and relative humidity measurements.

Consumer Workshops The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and other event sponsors are offering solar energy and energy efficiency workshops for consumers. Workshops will not be offered on Thursday, October 18, during Building Industry Day. See the daily schedule below for workshop offerings.

Ask the Experts Panel Weekends only: 11:00 am – 1:00 pm and 3:30 pm – 5:30 pm.

A group of green-building experts, coordinated by sponsor Blue Egg, will be on hand to answer questions. (Each presentation will be 30 min, with 10 min for Q&A)

Educational Exhibits Two educational exhibits are open during the following times:

  • 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., weekends
  • 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m., weekdays

S.2017, to amend the Energy Policy and Conservation Act to provide for national energy efficiency standards for general service incandescent lamps

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 12 Sep 2007 14:00:00 GMT


Panel 1

Panel 2

  • Kyle Pitsor, Vice President of Government Relations, National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA)
  • Mr. Steven Nadel, Executive Director, American Council for an Energy-Efficent Economy
Coverage from Bloomberg:
The world’s three largest lighting companies, long at odds over a way to eliminate inefficient incandescent light bulbs in use for 125 years, now favor Senate legislation (S. 2017) over a House-passed measure [H.R.2751, Sec. 9021 of H.R.3221] some say will outlaw all but the spiral-shaped compact fluorescent bulbs.

Royal Philips Electronics NV in Amsterdam, the world’s largest light-bulb maker, Munich-based Siemens AG and General Electric Co., based in Fairfield, Connecticut, support a bill introduced last week by Senator Jeff Bingaman, a New Mexico Democrat.

The measure would phase out incandescent light bulbs by 2014 and replace them with light-emitting diodes, or LEDs, halogen bulbs, compact fluorescent lamps, or CFLs, and higher efficiency lights. The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, which Bingaman chairs, held a hearing on the plan today.

The House bill would require a further improvement by 2020 in efficiency that industry representatives do not support because they say it would rule out bulbs they are developing to meet the 2014 standard.

“If you tell us that the products we have to spend millions of dollars bringing to market in 2014 will become obsolete in 2020, it’s very difficult for a company to go to their shareholders and say that’s an investment worth making,” said Randy Moorhead, vice president of government affairs for Philips Electronic North America, a division of Royal Philips.

House and Senate aides said today they hoped to reconcile differences in the proposals in negotiations on energy legislation, which currently is bogged down in Congress.

Energy Conservation

Growing certainty that the burning of fossil fuels is warming the Earth’s atmosphere has spawned proposals from governments and industry to conserve energy. The Senate legislation would save 88 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity per year, according to a Bingaman statement, or enough to power more than 11 million homes.

Greenhouse gas emissions would be cut by 500 million tons annually, or 1.5 percent, by replacing incandescent light bulbs worldwide, Paul Waide, a policy analyst at the International Energy Agency, said at the Senate hearing. He said that would be the equivalent of “installing 100 times current U.S. wind generation capacity in lieu of unsequestered coal-fired power plants.”

Replacing Bulbs

Under the Senate proposal, beginning in 2012 and continuing through 2014, the current 40-watt, 60-watt, 75-watt and 100-watt incandescent bulbs, which now number 4 billion in U.S. homes and businesses, will be replaced by lower wattage bulbs that produce equivalent amounts of light. Bingaman’s bill would allow for a reevaluation of how to raise standards in 2020.

The House bill requires existing wattage lights to be brighter, which industry and environmental groups say will lead to more efficiency, although not necessarily to energy savings. The House measure then requires efficiency gains by 2020 that industry says are untenable.

The House plan would raise lighting efficiency by about 30 percent by 2014 and by 75 percent by 2020.

“If it stays the way it is now, as far as we know now, it is basically a CFL standard,” Earl Jones, senior counsel for the consumer and industrial division of GE, said of the House bill. He said new technology could develop, however Congress should not lock in an approach now to be mandated in 2020.

GE, Siemens’ Osram-Sylvania and Philips are planning different kinds of new products that would not meet the House’s long-range standards.

‘Tough’ Standards

Representative Jane Harman, a chief sponsor of the House bill, said the two bills were not all that far apart and she would compromise on how savings are measured. She would not support a less stringent bill.

“The standards are going to stay tough,” the California Democrat said in an interview after testifying at the hearing. “We are not watering down savings.”

Harman wants states to be able to preempt the federal standard until 2020. Bingaman wants no state preemption. Harman said that issue would not lead to the measure’s downfall.

Steven Nadel, executive director of the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy, who testified at the hearing, said the Senate bill will save a little more energy than the House bill through 2020, and a little less than the House bill through 2030.

Nadel said the Senate bill should be toughened in ways industry does not support. For example efficiency groups want lawmakers to close loopholes that would allow less efficient lighting products to be exempted from the rules.

“I could think of a dozen ways that I could evade these standards without any trouble,” Nadel said of loopholes in the Bingaman bill.

To contact the reporter on this story: Daniel Whitten in Washington at [email protected]

Dowagiac Daily News:
Congressman Fred Upton (R – St. Joseph) testified this morning before the U.S. Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee on his bipartisan amendment to transform the country’s lighting industry from obsolete, inefficient incandescent light bulbs toward higher-efficiency standards. Upton, a senior member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, and California Democrat Jane Harman are leading the effort to promote energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Both Upton and Harman testified during the hearing to examine “Energy Efficiency Standards for Incandescent Lamps.” Upton’s bipartisan amendment, supported by both environmental and industry groups, was included in a broad energy package that passed the U.S. House in early August.

“We must examine other solutions in addition to conservation as energy consumption across the globe is expected to increase approximately 50 percent by 2030,” said Upton. “Current incandescent bulbs on store shelves are obsolete and highly inefficient – only 10 percent of the energy consumed by each bulb is for light with 90 percent wasted on unnecessary heat. With more efficient bulbs, we will dramatically lower our energy use, reducing greenhouse gases as well as saving American families billions of dollars in their electric bills – and the benefits will be as easy as a flip of the switch. Every home will be on the front lines in the effort to reduce pollution and save energy, and we will be successful one light bulb at a time. I am confident that the Senate will embrace our common sense, bipartisan approach that partners with American industry to substantially reduce pollution.”

Across the nation, the environmental and economic benefits of more efficient bulbs will be substantial.

High efficiency bulbs will result in the:

  • Reduction in electricity demand equal to the output of 23 nuclear plants;
  • Reduction of airborne mercury emissions from coal burning plants – 4,500 lbs;
  • Reduction in annual Carbon Dioxide emissions – 120 million tons; and
  • $14 billion in reduced electricity costs for consumers.

The amendment sets technology-neutral performance standards to replace today’s inefficient 100 watt, 75 watt, 60 watt and 40 watt incandescent lights with a mix of products (halogen, compact fluorescent, high-efficiency incandescent, and LED’s) that will result in efficiency gains exceeding 50%. Starting in July 2012 , the 100 watt incandescent will be completely phased out, with the 75, 60 and 40 watt bulbs phased out for more efficient bulbs in 2014, 2015 and 2018 respectively. The transition will result in the annual phasing-out of the production of 2 billion inefficient incandescent bulbs. Upton and Harman worked very closely with industry and environmentalists to craft common sense legislation that seeks to clean up the environment, all the while protecting American jobs.

Upton and Harman are also leading the effort to require that each agency, department, and office within the Federal Government, beginning Oct. 1, 2007, purchase light bulbs that meet the Department of Energy’s “Energy Star” efficiency ratings. Their bipartisan amendment has been included in every spending bill that has passed the House.

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